Sep 24

Mets Wrap: Aaron Harang And David Aardsma Show Something For 2014

It was fun to watch the New York Mets play a meaningful September game. Maybe next year they’ll be in one for their own benefit.

Manager Terry Collins said prior to the game the Mets could benefit just by playing a team with something on the line.

HARANG: Pitching for 2014.

HARANG: Pitching for 2014.

“It will be an education for our young players,’’ Collins said of this series with the Cincinnati Reds. “It will be fun to watch. We’ll see how we react. The pressure is on them. We’ll see how our guys measure up.’’

They measured up well in tonight’s 3-2 10-inning loss at Cincinnati, with a couple of nuggets worthy of a look.

The first was Aaron Harang, who gave up two runs in six innings. By definition, that was a quality start, but there was nothing good about the six walks.

However, what Harang demonstrated was an ability to work out of trouble, which is something to look for in a No. 4 or No. 5 starter.

Harang should be invited to spring training to compete for a spot in the rotation.

Assuming Matt Harvey won’t be ready for the start of spring training, the Mets have three starters in Jon Niese, Zack Wheeler and Dillon Gee. That leaves Harang competing for the fourth spot with the fifth spot wide open.

Should Harvey be ready, Harang would be competing for the fifth spot. Harvey opted to rehab his elbow and eschew surgery for now. Part of that rehab could be to test the elbow in the Arizona Fall League, as it would enable him to throw at game speed.

The Fall League is advantageous to the Mets in finding out about Harvey. Throwing on flat ground or in the bullpen does not test the elbow as facing hitters. Of course, Harvey won’t pitch in Arizona if he feels any discomfort in his elbow.

Something else to consider as they prepare their offseason moves is reliever David Aardsma, who pitched out of a bases-loaded jam in the ninth.

The Mets, as in what has been a winter tradition in the past four years, will be attempting to build a bullpen. Aardsma has been effective in stretches this season, and tonight was another example.

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Jul 06

Ike Davis And Zack Wheeler Bounce Back; Mets Have Decision On Josh Satin

Ike Davis and Zack Wheeler, two key, but struggling players for the New York Mets, came up big Friday night in Milwaukee. In his return from the minors, Davis had three hits, while Wheeler, who was hit hard in his previous start, settled down by throwing more fastballs.

They didn’t have great nights, but most importantly persevered. Davis still had his hitch, but it wasn’t as pronounced. He was quieter at the plate, saying he was “calming everything down.’’

WHEELER: Gets second win. (AP)

WHEELER: Gets second win. (AP)

Wheeler remains a project, but his confidence had to get a boost because he completed five innings and didn’t get overwhelmed by a two-run first. He was especially impressive getting out of a bases-loaded jam in his final inning.

Pitchers aren’t just measured when the mow down an offense, but when they escape trouble. It’s a long process from phenom to dominance, and that will come by reducing his pitch count. He threw 98 in five innings, with only 56 going for strikes.

That will change in time, and hopefully, unlike Davis, he can make the corrections without going to the minors.

Rather than lament his demotion, Davis said all the right things, such that he learned while he was down there and worked hard.

“It’s still not fun to see .160 or whatever is on the scoreboard,’’ Davis told reporters last night at Miller Park. “But I’ve got a lot of time and I can make things up in a hurry. … Leaving on a bad note and coming back on a good note, it’s nice. Hopefully I can continue this and make up some ground.’’

Davis also had praise for his replacement, Josh Satin, who is carrying a ten-game hitting streak.

The Mets have decisions to make on Davis and Satin, notably, which one of them is their future? Davis is making $3.1 million this year, which will increase in 2014. The Mets must decide if they want to tender him a contract or let him become a free agent, or even if they want to trade him. Satin hit well enough to draw interest should the Mets dangle him.

Manager Terry Collins said it is not an option to platoon Davis and Satin, and he will try to keep the latter relevant. Satin, who is hitting .353, was performing because of regular at-bats. It doesn’t look as if he’ll get them now.

Collins said Satin will hit against some lefties, and could also get time at third, second and in the outfield.

“You don’t do what Josh Satin did and then, all of a sudden, go sit on the bench. That’s not going to work,’’ Collins pledged. “I’m going to try to figure out how to get him in there, where to play him.’’

We shall see.

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Jun 13

Even In Defeat Matt Harvey Makes Impact For Mets

You knew Matt Harvey wasn’t going to win them all, but the flip side is the New York Mets can’t lose all his starts, either.

Right?

HARVEY: A lot to like, even in defeat. (AP)

HARVEY: A lot to like, even in defeat. (AP)

At one time Harvey was 4-0 and we were wondering what else could come his way after a Sports Illustrated cover and dating a model. A few runs would be nice, but let’s not get greedy.

Since that start, he is 1-1 with eight no-decisions, including this afternoon’s 2-1 loss to St. Louis at Citi Field in a game the Mets now wish was rained out.

“It’s pitching. It’s going to happen,’’ Harvey told reporters in an answer which gives us another reason to like him.

Harvey said he goes into every start wanting to pitch the distance, not give up runs and win. That’s the attitude every pitcher should carry into every game.

Harvey won’t start the All-Star Game at Citi Field, which would have been a treat, but he could still make the National League roster. If he doesn’t and he stays healthy, there should be other opportunities.

Manager Terry Collins understands the frustrations Harvey might be experiencing, and is impressed with how is young ace is dealing with the stress.

“This guy is a different animal,’’ Collins told reporters. “He’s very, very aware of what he needs to do and what major league pitchers have to do. They can’t worry about lack of offense or [teammates] not making plays.

“They’ve got to go do their jobs. He’s done that, but when you’re pitching as well as he has and are just unable to win some games, it can be a little frustrating, especially for a young guy who is trying to make an impact in this league.’’

So far, even in defeat, Harvey has made a profound impact. And, yes, it would be sweet if we had the chance to see Harvey tip his cap during player introductions at the All-Star Game.

 

 

 

 

 

Jun 04

Mets Wrap: Another Jeremy Hefner Start Wasted

Once again, the Mets wasted a strong Jeremy Hefner, this time when Bobby Parnell blew a save by giving up three hits and a sacrifice fly in the ninth inning. With the 3-2 loss, the Mets have dropped four straight. Not quite the encore they hoped for after winning four straight from the Yankees.

ON THE MOUND: Hefner will be a hard act for Dillon Gee to follow Wednesday. Hefner gave up one run on four hits with one walk and seven strikeouts. … Brandon Lyon pitched a perfect eighth, but Parnell pitched far from a perfect ninth.

AT THE PLATE: Omar Quintanilla had two more hits, including a two-run triple in the fifth. … Jordany Valdespin had the Mets’ two other hits against Jordan Zimmerman.

THEY SAID IT: “Jeremy pitched another very good game. He pitched very well. He got us where we wanted to.’’ – Manager Terry Collins on Jeremy Hefner.

BY THE NUMBERS:  30: Games in which the Mets scored three or fewer runs.

ON DECK: Dillon Gee goes against Dan Haren Wednesday night.

As always, your comments are greatly appreciated and I will attempt to answer them. Please follow me on Twitter @jdelcos

May 11

Jon Niese’s Injury-Related Bad Habits Root To Rout

Including today’s 11-2 flameout loss to Pittsburgh, the Mets have lost Jon Niese’s last five starts, with him giving up 22 runs and not getting out of the fifth inning in three of them. He has not come close to resembling what the Mets think he should be, and that’s the No. 1 starter in their rotation.

The first game in that slide, April 18 at Colorado, and the one preceding it, April 12, at Minnesota, were played in temperatures in the high 20s. Manager Terry Collins said the cold might have had a residual effect on Niese. Niese beat the Twins, but was given double-digit runs of support.

“I think there might be. He’s had some stiffness in his back,’’ Collins said when asked if there is a connection between working in the cold and his following ineffectiveness. “He’s had trouble getting loose and (prior to his May 5 start at Atlanta) he didn’t have a good bullpen session.’’

The only thing surprising about this issue with Niese is the injury wasn’t worse and there haven’t been more weather-related injuries. This has always been one of my pet peeves about playing in lousy weather. The owners have such steep investments in their players, and yet they have no qualms about playing games in precarious conditions. This is also an issue the Major League Baseball Players Association has glossed over. Playing conditions have never been high on the MLBPA’s pecking order in negotiating with the owners.

It’s usually about money and drug testing, but working conditions somehow get ignored.

Niese, who gave up eight runs in 4.1 innings today, said to compensate for the soreness and stiffness he developed the bad habit of dropping his arm angle during his release. Consequently, hitters have been able to pick up the ball out of his hand earlier.

“I think it’s to the point now where I created a bad habit with dropping down my arm angle, and I’m kind of opening everything up,’’ Niese said, adding he wasn’t bothered by pain today. “It’s something I’m going to work on in the bullpen to get it back.’’

Niese said there’s no deception in his delivery and hitters aren’t chasing the pitchers they normally might. They are able to pick up his release point earlier, and that split second makes a tremendous difference to the hitters.

Niese is hopeful of working his release point issue out in the bullpen this week before making Thursday’s start in St. Louis against Adam Wainwright.